ICMI Research: Most Contact Centers Are Hindering Their Agents

ICMI’s Senior Analyst, Justin Robbins, shared this startling statistic on a recent webinar:

74% of contact centers admit they prevent their agents from providing the best service possible

This stat is scary, but not surprising. Here’s a typical scenario:

You call a customer service number. The first step is navigating their frustrating Interactive Voice Response system that’s designed to deter you from speaking with a live agent. You finally get past that gatekeeper only to be put on hold.

You’re frustrated by the time you finally get to talk to a real person.

This system puts contact center agents at a disadvantage when it comes to making you happy. ICMI’s research suggests agents face a number of additional challenges once they get you on the phone:

  • Agents aren’t empowered
  • They don’t have access to the right tools and information
  • Their contact center isn’t listening to your feedback

Lack of Empowerment

Robbins shared a statistic about empowerment that was really eye-opening:

86% of contact centers don’t empower agents

Empowerment means having the resources and authority to take care of the problem right then and there. This can be the difference between first contact resolution and a problem that takes 16 contacts to resolve.


Lack of Tools

Contact center agents can’t be empowered if they don’t have the tools they need to serve their customers. ICMI discovered this is another major problem:

20% of agents don’t have access to real-time customer information

This includes essential data like contact history and customer account information. It's why the airline customer service agent might tell you your lost suitcase had arrived at the airport even when it really hadn't. These agents are flying blind.


Lack of Feedback

It seems like we get asked to take a survey nearly every day. That’s why this next statistic was really surprising:

47% of contact centers don’t have a customer satisfaction program

This means nearly half of contact centers aren’t actively trying to find and fix the problems that frustrate us as customers. Even those contact centers that do have a formal customer satisfaction program don’t always do it well


The Webinar

You can learn more about ICMI’s research and gain insight into overcoming these challenges by viewing the webinar on demand:

2015 ICMI Contact Center Research Findings: Own the Moments


  • Justin Robbins, Senior Analyst, ICMI
  • Nate Brown, Manager of Customer Support, Underwriter’s Laboratories
  • Ann Ruckstuhl, SVP & Chief Marketing Officer, LiveOps
  • Erica Strother, Community Specialist, ICMI